This piece gets at the subject of our one-day food conference coming up on Friday, Feb 17 on campus, Changing Climate, Changing Appetites. More details and registration to come, but please do mark your calendar and plan to stay for the day for panels discussions (heavy on the Q&A!) that explore behavioral science and how we change our appetites, secrets of making these foods delicious and crave-worthy (from land to kitchen), the role of marketing and advertising in the effort and the power and politics of the food/ag sector. There will be a delicious lunch for those registered; sessions will build on each other. The event is open to the public.
With that in mind, please do click through and read this whole piece from the Atlantic – and begin compiling your questions for Feb 17!
From the essay: Large-scale animal agriculture has become a primary driver of climate change. We are eating and producing much more meat than ever before. The human population is on pace to hit 10 billion by the middle of the century; that’s 10 times as many people as there were in 1800. When we find a way to grow delicious red meat in petri dishes, then we can discuss exactly how much is healthy to eat. For now, the only way forward for our species seems to be to consider meat as something closer to a delicacy.
…The most common January undertaking in “new year, new you,” is dietary—shifting the actual molecules that fuel everything we do. Most of us will fail to meaningfully change, and then feel only more inadequate in that failure.
We fail because absurd goals can never be maintained, and because sometimes our own bodies (partly the way we were born, but mostly the way we’ve trained them to demand constant supplies of simple carbohydrates and insulin) make it almost impossible not to fail—to live without feeling deprived and hungry and joyless.
Maybe most important, many people fail when they don’t truly believe in what they’re doing. The gratification of sugar is immediate, and the idea of a paralyzing stroke decades hence is remote. It seems there are more important things to worry about right now.
…Changing the way we eat is a major change. It will involve multiple decisions every day. Presumably our old habits existed for reasons—convenience, enjoyment, availability, cost, marketing, etc. Modifying the habits that these conditions created means hard work and requires dedication to a cause. I’m not convinced that concern for the health of our bodies years in the future is sufficient.
I’m not even sure the promise of modifying our appearances is enough. The neurologist Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning that the key is to avoid the temptation to pursue happiness—like that being sold to us through all of the new-year deals—but to pursue meaning. Piles of research have shown that a sense of purpose is a central to long, healthy life.
There’s purpose to be had in how we eat—in how conscientious we can be, how minimally we can disrupt the world for those that will come after us and those working to produce and procure our food. I think this is a sustainable and worthy resolution for a healthier way to eat, if you’re intent on making one. It works for the mind and body at once, and, most importantly, not just our own.